Contributing to Citrix Education

Last week I was off to Citrix Systems, Santa Clara for attending the next Citrix NetScaler-based CCA exams IDW (Item Development Workshop). An IDW is a workshop that lasts about a week in which you and others will create exam questions (or items) that will appear on the next (or revised) Citrix exam(s). In this particular IDW we are concentrating on the follow-up exams of the old Citrix NetScaler 1Y0-A11 and Citrix Access Gateway Enterprise 1Y0-A13 which are based on the Citrix NetScaler 9 software version.

Citrix NetScaler IDW 2012-01

Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of all the participants together, so to name a few: from left to right: Lourdes Soler (Citrix), Henny Louwers, Stuart Souter, Alejandra Garcia (Citrix), Craig Pickford and Robert Zehnder.

Citrix Education is changing it’s strategy when it comes to the Networking Devices exams, a couple of months ago they interviewed Citrix NetScaler professionals regarding the content of the Citrix NetScaler courses and exams to verify if it meets the candidate profiles that are out there. The outcome was pretty straight forward, there are networking professionals which work with Citrix NetScaler as a networking platform and there are Application Delivery professionals that work with Citrix NetScaler in which the latter often will not broaden beyond Citrix Access Gateway Enterprise. Citrix acknowledged this and has determined to create two types of exams and/or certifications, one based on administering Citrix NetScaler which will emphasize Access Gateway Enterprise and one on engineering Citrix NetScaler which will emphasize the networking platform.

Attending at the creation of these exams really shows how much quality is being put into these exams by Citrix Education. You start seeing exams a little differently, especially when taking certain other vendors exams. After attending a Citrix IDW you start noticing things from exams that you might consider not fair for the test taker. I do not want to get into much detail here because of NDA violation and it really is not that important but I do would like to point out that every item is very much thought out. Of course there are other vendors that have great exams too like Microsoft and Cisco.

When attending a IDW, Citrix Education will let you take a peak into the kitchen on the path that Citrix Education is following and which reasoning is behind certain decisions that are made or are going to be made. Citrix will ask the opinion of IDW participants verifying if these are in line with the field experience.

Creating really good exam items is sometimes hard to do and Citrix (or other participants) can be ruthless when it comes to maintaining quality. Sometimes an item will be created thinking it will be perfect until it gets reviewed by the board and decided it should be totally rewritten but mostly some good suggestions of how the item can be turned into a valid question (and answers). Sometimes you will come up with the answers and have to think of the question because of the fact that there may be an important learning point in there that is relative to the field.

Citrix will not allow trickery, the question has to be honest, valid and meet the experience of the test taker, so it may not be too easy yet it may not be too difficult. So, sometimes it’s just not as easy as it sounds, creating questions (or answers for that matter!).

Although it sounds nice to have a trip to Santa Clara, California (or Fort Lauderdale, Florida), you do spent most of the time in an office. That of course does not mean that there is no room for fun! It’s Citrix! So work hard, play hard! Being an SME that is participating in the IDW will give you first class treatment all the way. Everything is well taken care of and you will be remember it as a great experience.

In the end you will get mentioned as a Subject Matter Expert and a participant  in the Item Development Team in the Exam Prep Guide for contributing to a great quality exam.

About Henny Louwers
I work as a Consultant specialized in Application Delivery, Virtualization of Servers, Desktops and Apps.

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